February 15, 2017 – Only Bad Dreams

“Clear your mind and get a hold on yourself and, as when awakened from sleep and realizing it was only a bad dream upsetting you, wake up and see that what’s there is just like those dreams.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.31

Think about this example. You have a decision to make so you evaluate the potential outcomes. Multiple scenarios are run through in your head so you can prepare for the consequences of your decision. You make the most reasonable choice, and yet you find yourself beginning to worry. What if I’m really not prepared? What if other people act in a way that creates challenges I can’t overcome? What if an “act of god” takes place?

What is the cause of this fear, anxiety or other passionate emotion? It can’t be the event itself because it hasn’t even happened.

The only fact is this: we get to choose how we react to everything in life. If we get upset because things don’t work out as planned, or to restate getting upset because we don’t get our way, it’s not unlike getting upset at a bad dream. What exactly can be controlled in a dream? Nothing. What can you control external to you? Nothing. What we can control is how we react.

Easier said than done. Sometimes we want things so badly that we lose sight of the truth that we still have choices to make. Maybe it takes longer to get there, or maybe we find a different path with a better outcome. How often have you thought, after the fact, just how petty you were being while in the throes of crisis? I can remember so many time when I’ve been paralyzed to inaction because I was so overwhelmed by failure.

Shall we lean on Nietzsche?

“From life’s school of war: what does not kill me makes me stronger”

Don’t believe the dream.

A Sunday Afternoon in the Moment

My trail map

When I was in college studying philosophy and religion one element of learning was prevalent: be in the moment. It was not necessarily a critical component to any thought or thinker, rather it was a means by which the subject matter was understood. Historical understanding of ideas aside, experiencing the idea for yourself, in your own time leads to a greater understanding of the thing.

For example, Existentialists Soren Kierkegaard and Frederich Nietzsche both penned influential and timeless evaluations of who we are and how we become. Each approached a reaction to some historical event. For the former it was Hegelian thought, the latter Christianity. Yet their reaction to these subjects required an awareness of the now and what the present impact was. From the Buddhist blog “Wildmind“:

How often is a thing considered based on what it might be or what it might influence? In turn how often is the present influenced by that perception? But there are also past burdens. Things which we assume as future concerns and as such we respond without consideration as to their relevance.

Being in the moment means being mindfully aware of what is going on right here and now, in our experience, and this includes any thinking we do about the past or future. Much of the time our experience does not have this quality of awareness or mindfulness. A lot of the time we are like robots, automatically living out habitual patterns of self-pity, anger, wish-fulfillment, fear, etc. These habitual tendencies take us over and run our lives for us – without our being able to stand back and decide whether this is what we actually want to be doing. It can be a real shock when we start to realize just how habitual and automatic our lives are, and when we realize how much runaway thinking leads to states of suffering.

My friend Chris Gandy is a welcomed mentor in my endeavors, reminding me not to get caught up in the fallacies of past and future considerations. When posting stories on Facebook he will sometimes direct my attention to the purpose of the sharing and ask that I simply be in the moment, then move on to the next experience. Not to have “runaway” thoughts. It is not unlike Jesus’ parable of sowing seeds. Being distracted from the path is so easy when we become consumed by the other person.

Obviously the concept is far more complicated than the few words above but they serve as a frame to the greater discussion. It was with this in mind that I mounted my 2005 Trek, loaded up the Osprey Raptor and headed to UNF’s nature trail. There was roughly four hours of daylight left on this Sunday the first of April. For me it served as the demarcation point of winter to spring. Recently I had registered for the Jax Tri series and a 16 week training schedule was peering at me from Monday. The mind needed to purged and combining that cleansing with a slow 13 mile training ride happened as needed fact.

Rather than write of the time I will allow still moments obtained with my Blackberry 9000 to steal the credit.

A Sunday Afternoon in the Moment – Images